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News added on 23.08.2016

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Distillery fined £270,000 after employee harmed in fire

A distillery has been handed a huge fine after an employee was caught in a warehouse fire. Where did it go wrong?

A fire at a distillery engulfed an employee and destroyed a warehouse. As a result, the worker sustained 20% burns to his head, neck and hands. The company pleaded guilty to breaching ss.2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974. At the time of the incident, highly flammable liquid in the form of ethyl acetate was being transferred from a bulk storage tank to an intermediate container. The HSE investigation found that the most likely source of ignition would have been a discharge of static electricity generated by the transfer of the liquid. It also found poor maintenance of the pipework and valves and a failure to competently inspect the equipment or monitor the systems of work. In addition to the fine received, the company was ordered to pay £25,009 in costs.

The hazards associated with the use of ethyl acetate should have been well known by the company as it was involved in the distillery process every day. A failure to properly assess the risks and put adequate control measures in place that were maintained led to this unfortunate incident.

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